E-commerce

15 Popup Best Practice Tips to Increase Leads and Sales [2021]

Popups are one of the best-converting opt-ins.

But, to get the best results you need to build your popups according to these popup best practices. These practices separate intrusive, in-your-face popups from attention-grabbing, high-converting, and well-designed ones.

In this post, you’ll learn these best practices for popups:

  • Consider your audience’s needs
  • Define clear goals
  • Choose the best format
  • Create user-friendly popups
  • Make popup design match your website
  • Make the CTA button stand out
  • Write short and sweet copy
  • Make popups valuable
  • Use original visuals
  • Make popups mobile friendly
  • Gamify the experience
  • Add a countdown to encourage action
  • Allow users to close popups easily
  • Employ campaign targeting
  • Test your popup campaigns

1. Consider Your Audience’s Needs

The best-performing popups are those designed with visitors in mind. This means they are valuable, non-intrusive, engaging, and have a clear benefit to visitors.

To make your popup campaigns convert well, you need to figure out what makes them valuable and engaging in the eyes of your visitors. The best way is to dive into your customer research and learn about your customers’ goals and needs.

Ecommerce research suggests these are the top motivators for shoppers completing a purchase: free shipping (51%), coupons and discounts (39.6%), and customer reviews (31.8%).

Let’s assume that the same holds true for your visitors.

In this case, you can safely assume that popups containing discounts, free shipping, or social proof will be valuable for your visitors. The same incentives work for many brands, and examples are everywhere.

Here’s an example of this popup best practice in action—

Marks & Spencer offers free shipping to customers with this non-intrusive popup.

Marks & Spencer popup

Why free shipping and not discounts, you ask? Because the website is having a sale, so many items are already heavily discounted.

The bottom line is: learn what your visitors might appreciate the most. Then, design your popup campaigns with that in mind.

Need to collect more customer feedback to design better campaigns? Try surveying visitors with popups. These 20 popup survey questions will help you get useful feedback.

2. Define Clear Goals

Our next step: coming up with a goal for your campaign. That goal will be based on the needs of your business and help you evaluate the campaign’s performance.

Common goals for popup campaigns include:

  • Increase sales
  • Drive traffic to specific website pages
  • Recover abandoned shopping carts
  • Spread awareness of sales and special offers
  • Increase loyalty program participation
  • Convert returning visitors

Let’s consider some examples.

Say your goal is to generate leads. While researching, you found that first-time visitors are likely to convert if given a discount. In this case, the popup campaign can offer a discount in exchange for emails.

The popup best practices here would be to:

  • Focus the copy on the main benefit
  • Add an email sign up to get the discount

This email popup campaign from Füm illustrates these practices.

Fum popup example
Want to create an email popup in two minutes? Sign up and start customizing an email popup template in Wisepops for free.

For lead generation campaigns, you can also come up with a target for the number of new leads (but be mindful of your website’s traffic). Setting clear goals is critical because they provide a benchmark to assess the success of your campaigns.

Another example—

Let’s say your goal is to drive traffic to a page with a sale. In this case, the popup best practice would be to:

  • Mention the essential sale details
  • Give a link to the sale
  • Display the campaign in a prominent place

This is exactly what Willow & Hall did with this excellent popup design.

Willow and Hall popup

As you can see, campaign goals determine popup design and copy. That’s why you should consider making an original design and text for every campaign.

Thinking of creating a lead generation campaign? Here’s how to design popups with irresistible offers to get more signups: Ultimate Guide to Email Lead Generation.

3. Choose The Best Popup Format

The way you display your popup campaign is critical to generating results. This is because every popup type has its advantages and disadvantages, and influences the visitor’s experience in different ways.

Here are common popup types:

  • Embeds
  • Website bars
  • Video popups
  • Mobile popups
  • Slide-in popups
  • Full-screen popups
  • Spin-to-win (wheel popups)
  • Middle-of-the-screen popups

You can build any of these types with popup software. For example, below is the view of some popup types from Wisepops (FYI: the middle-of-the-screen popup is on the top left and the full-screen one is at the bottom left).

Wisepops popup templates

Tips to choose popups:

  • Website bars are great for sharing announcements
  • Mobile popups are best to display to mobile visitors
  • Spin-the-wheel popups are designed for contests and giveaways
  • Embeds are best if you want to add popups to your website’s content
  • Full-screen and middle-of-the-screen popups are great for getting the full attention of visitors

The best choice, however, might be defined by comparing multiple campaign versions. For that, you need popup software that includes A/B testing features.

Want to know more about all popup formats? Visit our Popup Design Gallery for examples, use cases, and templates.

4. Create User-Friendly Popups

Popup best practice dictates that you should be showing the right popups at the right time to the right people.

We need popups to be as non-intrusive as possible, so placement and timing are important. This is where the targeting options come into play again. Businesses use them to place popups on specific pages and display them to specific visitor groups.

Here are just some of the many display options you can experiment with:

  • Location. You can target or exclude visitors from a certain country, region or city, which is useful for local campaigns.
  • Cart value. If a visitor has less than $100 in cart value, you can create a popup with a free shipping offer to encourage them to reach the threshold.
  • First-time or returning visitors. Popups can “recognize” if a visitor is new or returning, and display a custom campaign to them, e.g. a discount for newcomers.
  • Visitor adds an item to the cart and is about to leave. This is a cart abandonment popup designed to remind about and/or incentivize customers to finish the purchase.
  • Visitor visits an out-of-stock item. You can offer that visitor to get a notification when the item becomes available again.

As you can see, there’s a popup for any marketing- or sales-related scenario. Learning to use these targeting options is easy, and their diversity ensures that all online businesses can create effective popups.

Exit popups are some of the most popular. If you’re interested, also try these 5 Exit Popup Tips to Get More Sales.

5. Make the Popup Design Match Your Website

A great popup feels like a natural extension of the website, which minimizes the feeling of the popup being an invasive ad. That’s why it’s important to follow the popup best practice guidelines.

These popup best practices include:

  • Use your website’s colors
  • Write popup text in your brand tone of voice
  • Employ fonts allowed by your branding guidelines

Together, these simple practices result in awesome popups that look and feel as if they’re a seamless part of your website.

Here’s an example—

Timberland’s email popup has been created with the three best practices in mind. They make it feel less of an interruption and more like part of the website.

Timberland popup example

6. Make the Popup CTA Stand Out

The call-to-action (CTA) button is critical to conversion. A compelling and visible CTA gives you the best chance of achieving your goals, so getting it right is key.

Popups best practice for CTAs include:

  • Use a contrasting color
  • Write action-driven text
  • Use first-person language
  • Mention the benefit for customers

This CTA example is a great illustration of these practices. The button stands out because of the contrasting color and highlights the benefit (trying a tool for free).

Website builder popup example

One more example—

The campaign below illustrates how to use first person language.

This technique makes viewers feel like they’re in control, which could be especially useful for email campaigns where you’re asking for personal info. Also, note the awesome original image.

Example of popup copy

A good reason to try first person language: one study found that it increased conversions by 90% after changing “Start your free trial” to “Start my free trial.”

Popup expert tip: Treat popup best practices for CTAs as a starting point. Be open to experimenting with colors, texts, and placements because it can increase conversions. More info: 5 Easy Popup CTA Button Tests That Boost Conversions.

7. Write Short & Sweet Copy

Engaging copy can make a big difference for your popup campaigns. People will respond only when they recognize value, and copywriting is a way to convey that. And the good news is that you don’t have to be a great copywriter to produce engaging copy.

One way to do that is to follow these popup best practices for copywriting:

  • Be concise and clear
  • Focus on the benefits for the customers
  • Write in simple, conversational language
  • Use your brand’s voice and personality where appropriate

Here’s how businesses apply these powerful tips.

This popup example follows the best practices. The copy is short, clear, and benefit-driven.

Urth magazine popup

Many businesses are also doing an amazing job with brand personality-driven copywriting in popups.

This Honey Pot campaign, for example, is a beautiful example of popup copy inspired by the brand’s playful personality. Also, note how short and sweet it is!

Honey Pot popup example

Treat these copywriting popup best practices as a starting point. The tip about being concise, for example, doesn’t always mean you need to cut your texts until there’s one sentence left.

For example, this popup below employs storytelling, so the copy is a bit longer than many similar campaigns. But the text is so engaging that its length is justified. Take a look.

Asphalte popup

Bottom line: the best popup copy is the one that converts. Start with the popup best practices, do some testing, and choose what works best.

Helpful copywriting resources:
How to Write Pop-Up Copy That Converts
6 Copywriting Tricks to Increase Your Popups’ Conversions

8. Make Popups Valuable

If you want to boost conversions without having any negative impact on the user experience, your popup must add value for the visitors. The value can take the form of:

  • Discounts
  • Free shipping
  • Quality content
  • Loyalty program invitation
  • Quick access to pages with sales

The value is a must, but the way you present it to visitors is also important. Online shoppers are used to brands bombarding them with marketing popups, so the way you phrase the value can help to differentiate your campaigns.

Let’s see some examples.

This popup offers content about sleep health, which could be helpful for many visitors of the website selling mattresses.

Saatva popup example

This next popup example from Aurate New York is also amazing.

Although the popup’s purpose is to get newsletter signups, it invites us to “share the gold,” which means getting a 15% discount for two people. The usage of “gold” here is super creative and appropriate since Aurate is a jewelry store.

Aurate New York popup example

So, the bottom line: use creative copywriting to present value for customers uniquely. It’s an awesome way to increase engagement and conversions.

9. Use Original Visuals

A rule of thumb in marketing says we need to use original imagery because stock photos undermine credibility. The same applies to popup campaigns: original visuals make your brand more authentic and unique.

This popup campaign from Soylent uses a cool image of the product. The image is professional, engaging and makes the product look delicious.

Soylent popup example

Meow Meow Tweet’s popups take the use of visuals to another level. This popup is shaped like a sleeping cat, which is a creative and original solution.

MeowMeowTweet popup example

So, bottom line: use original visual content. Don’t be afraid to get creative with them, too—your visitors might love it.

10. Make Popups Mobile Friendly

Your popup campaigns need to look great on mobile devices to help you convert this segment of visitors. Creating mobile-friendly popups is easy with popup software (see Wisepops instructions, for example).

A mobile-friendly popup campaign can look like this (a desktop campaign has been added to show the difference).

Master Dynamic popup example

Designing mobile popups that generate conversions and follow Google’s guidelines means following some mobile popup best practices. Read them in this guide: How to Design Mobile Popups That Convert (And Don’t Hurt SEO).

OverstockArt converted an impressive 10.4% mobile visitors (that’s 10,731 leads) with a simple popup campaign. See details and guidelines to replicate their campaign: OverstockArt Case Study.

11. Gamify the Experience

Gamification is a big thing in marketing. Customers like engaging in interactive experiences, so this technique can increase engagement and conversions.

And guess what—

Popups are a perfect—and proven—way to gamify website visitor experience.

Proof:

Faguo is running a giveaway campaign with this spin-the-wheel popup. The rules are simple: enter your details and spin the wheel to get a chance to win a pair of sneakers. Results: 5,000+ leads every month.

Faguo popup example

The conversion rate of this specific campaign is a whopping 17.5%, which translates into 48,146 new leads monthly. Gamification is one of the reasons for this success, along with a valuable prize.

Want to try a wheel popup on your website? Try Wisepops for free. This popup builder has a 4.9 rating on Shopify and a proven record of generating leads and sales with wheel popups (including from this happy owner below).

12. Add a Countdown to Encourage Action

Using a counter increases the sense of urgency in your popup campaigns. There are studies suggesting this popup best practice can help achieve up to a 147% increase in conversions.

With Wisepops you can add two types of countdowns (date-based and time-based) by inserting a single line of text in the campaign editor.

Example of a date-based popup campaign:

Adore Me popup example

13. Allow Visitors to Close Popups Easily

No one wants to have their screen blocked by a popup they can’t close. That’s why the closing button should always be clearly visible in your popup campaigns.

The popup best practices to make that possible include:

  • Place them on a contrasting background
  • Avoid making closing buttons extremely small
  • Consider different placements (left or right bottom corners) to ensure visibility

Like in this popup campaign below, a lot of white space in the background makes the button hard to miss.

Sarahs Snacks popup example

In some cases, closing buttons can be located outside the popup’s window (like in the example below). Make sure to choose a contrasting color to make it stand out.

Sodashi popup example

14. Employ Campaign Targeting

We’ve talked about this popup best practice above, but it deserves a separate section. Targeting allows displaying campaigns to specific visitor groups that are likely to convert. This way, you can make personalized popups designed to achieve specific goals.

You can use triggers for exit intent, on idle, on cart value, percentage of the screen visitors scroll down to, or even when they hover a certain element on a page. An exit-intent campaign, for example, can help reduce bounce rate and increase engagement.

In Wisepops, setting up targeting options is easy. Just make a choice among the available options or make a custom event in the campaign editor.

Wisepops popup triggers

15. Test Your Campaigns

We mentioned A/B testing a few times, but we really can’t overstate how important this popup best practice is. The thing is, even a small change can make a difference, so testing popup design to find the best-performing versions is a must.

Here’s proof: Asphalte, a clothing brand, tested two popup campaigns and increased the CTR from 15% to 25%. That helped to generate over 4,000 new leads every month.

Would you like to know what campaign features Asphalte tested? Find out more details: Asphalte Case Study.

Popup Best Practices: Summary

Popups are effective to help businesses achieve better marketing and sales results. They generate leads, raise awareness of promotions, drive traffic to landing pages, and do much more.

Following these popup best practices will help you get the best results. Try using the tips from this guide in your next campaign and see how you can improve the UX and achieve your goals.

And with a popup tool like Wisepops, building popups aligned with these best practices is a breeze.

Pawel Lawrowski Pawel is a Head of Growth at Wisepops and a Lead Generation&Pop-up Expert.

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